It has been a whirlwind of a year, but Levi finally turned 1! Oh wow. *deep breath* We made it!! If you haven’t read about our first few months with Levi, you can read about our roller coaster ride here.
Anyway, Levi has been such a joy in my life and I am so grateful that he has been given as such a precious gift to us! I cannot imagine my life without him. So, I planned to throw a party that showed just how much I love him and wanted to invite as many people as possible to share in our joy!
Picking a Theme
Like most families, we are on a budget. I just happen to have an amazingly talented graphic designer for a husband, so I get a lot of things that would normally be pricy for dirt cheap. Customized items like invitations, game cards, signs/posters…etc all for pennies. So, I must first say that I am so overwhelmingly thankful to have a husband who is willing to come home from his 40+ hour/week job and spend even more time creating masterpieces for me. He is also very patient with my picky behavior. I knew exactly what I wanted and would not settle for anything less.
So, with that cost out of the way, I was able to take inventory of what I have. One way that I like to do this is keep a Rubbermaid container of my party and craft supplies. I threw a shower back in February for my dear friend, Jen. I had some leftover mustaches that I used for an activity during her shower that I purchased from TheSweetPaperie on Etsy. I thought they were just the cutest things so I decided that they would work well for a starting point for me.
Now I knew I wanted mustaches and just had to figure out what else to go with it. I sifted through some pictures of mustache parties on Pinterest and found mostly weddings or other silly adult parties. I did find, however, some fun colors that I knew I would want to use. So, I started a PinBoard to help some friends and I organize an inspiration board. I love places like Farrel’s and Main Street in Disneyland and PRESTO! I had a theme! I decided we would celebrate our “Little Man” (mustaches) and have an Olde Time Soda shop feel to our party.
When I throw a party, I prefer to go all out. I knew that I wanted a bash and would invite everyone and anyone who would want to come and celebrate with us. This gets expensive, though. So, being on a budget, I had some details to work out.
Outside of picking a date, the first thing to think of is the time of your party. There is a tiny little sweet spot in the afternoon where you can host a party without having to provide food. This little sweet spot is from 2-4. Unfortunately for us, that is smack dab in the middle of Levi’s nap time. So, we knew that wasn’t going to work for us. We were either going to have to choose a lunch party or a dinner time party. Lunch is too close to nap time and it also creates a really hectic morning of set up. So we chose to do a late afternoon dinner from 3:00-6:00.
Now, planning a meal for 50+ people can be really expensive. Especially when you think about doing the meat. We thought about burgers and hot dogs, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted a hot grill running when we had kids running all over the place. I also wanted the hubster to be able to enjoy the party…not stand in front of a grill all afternoon. So, were a little nervous about what we would serve. We lucked out, though. Back around Easter our local grocery store had pork shoulder roasts on sale for $.50/lb. That’s right! I was able to buy 10 lbs of meat for just $5! (ps–I took advantage of this deal and bought 20 lbs and saved the other half for my 4th of July party this summer!)
Instead of freezing the shoulder roast and having to take it out a week ahead of time to thaw and cook…etc, I cooked it right away. I made shredded pork for sandwiches. That’s right. I got out 3 crock pots and cooked 20 lbs of port in a couple days. I put it all in zip lock bags and tossed ’em into the freezer to be taken out before the party! This idea was probably the best thing I thought of doing. Not only was it a great deal on food, but it saved me so much time the week of and day of the party. I had zero cooking that I needed to do. I simply tossed the meat back into a crock pot on low until it thawed out and then put it on warm throughout the party. We had almost none left! So, it must have tasted good.
Now, people can’t eat just pork sandwiches for dinner. There are all kinds of sides to bring. So, when a friend asked me what she could get for Levi’s birthday I said, “Actually, he really doesn’t need anything. We could use a veggie tray or something, though, instead of a gift!’ And you know what?? She was more than happy to do that instead! So, I asked a few people if they’d be willing to bring one of their famous sides! Someone brought the buns, someone else brought the fruit…etc. It worked out great!
So, so far I spent $5 on food (tehehe). Then there are desserts. I decided on cupcakes because it helps to prevent the use of more paper plates and forks..etc during a party. It’s also way easier than cutting a cake out for that many people. Now, I wanted to make the desserts in our theme colors. Luckily, I used electric blue food coloring in Emery’s party last November. So, I used it again in our buttercream for this party (I made the buttercream frosting on Wednesday evening before the party –buttercream with no milk lasts a while. So I skip out on the milk that is called for in the recipe I posted if I’m going to make it several days in advance). I made the cupcakes (1 batch chocolate, 1 batch yellow, and 1 batch Gluten-Free chocolate) the day before the party. When a friend asked what she could do that week to help, I handed her a box of cake mix and some cupcake liners and asked, “Do you mind making some cupcakes? I can frost them, but it would be so helpful to have one less box to make!” She was more than happy to do that. I knew this was right up her alley too! So, on Friday afternoon I frosted the cupcakes and put them in a box in the fridge. I didn’t top them with their toppers or cherry candies until the hour or so before the party on Saturday. I threw in some chocolate covered strawberries because they were on sale! 🙂
I think I spent a total of $20 for the food for the party including cake mixes, butter, powdered sugar…etc. The bulk of my budget, though, went into the candy display. I probably spent an additional $20 on candy. I wanted to find some nostalgic candy to go into these jars. I found Clark bars, Necco Wafers, tootsie rolls, hard candy sticks, suckers, licorice, and, of course–the candy probably held most responsible for cavities back in the day–Taffy! I found most of my candy in random places like grocery stores, a little shop called Mast General Store in Greenville, SC (while on Vacation…), and used leftover candy from other parties that we have had. You may recognize the big lollipops from Emery’s party back in November. In order to avoid buying every single candy in sight, I set out some criteria. It either had to A-Be in our theme colors or B-Be nostalgic. That really limited the candy that was available and kept me from over-indulging :). I placed all of the candy in Mason jars and apothecary jars and put them on our bookshelves. I placed wrapping paper (from the Dollar Tree) behind the bookshelves to give it a more festive look. The paper is still on the roll too! So, I was able to just roll it back up to be used another day!
In the end, it was a beautiful day celebrating our little man. The weather was perfect and everyone had a great time playing outside! This is probably the last time I will do such a large birthday party for a long time, but I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to do it!
Thanks for reading!